5 Easy Sauces to Make With Kids

Are bland meals getting you down? It’s time to get saucy! These 5 easy homemade sauces will show you that adding a little flavor to your meals doesn’t have to be scary. And the best part? Your kids are gonna love it.

1. Simple Salad Dressing

What’s a salad without dressing? We love this simple balsamic vinaigrette to introduce kids to greens. It’s also a great opportunity to talk about “emulsions,” when you combine two more more liquids (like vinegar and oil) that normally don’t mix easily.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • ¾ cup olive oil

Step-by-Step

  1. Add the vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper to a small mason jar, and let the flavors sit for 5 minutes. (You can use a funnel to make this easier.)
  2. Add the olive oil to the jar.
  3. Shake it up! You can remove the garlic at this point if your child prefers, or leave it in for more flavor.

Grown up note: Children may need help crushing or mincing the garlic. The dressing will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator.

2. Chunky Salsa

Practice chopping, dicing and mixing in this simple salsa. Enjoy it as a dip for homemade tortilla chips, or use it to top off burritos, taquitos and more.

Ingredients

  • 1 large tomato (or 2 small)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced chili pepper (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • ¼ lime
  • salt to taste

Step-by-Step

  1. A grown-up can help dice the tomato. Put it into a medium-size bowl. Cut the garlic clove in half, and crush it with a garlic press into the bowl of tomato. Chop the green pepper and add it to the bowl, too.
  2. Mince the chili pepper and add 1 teaspoon to the salsa (if you would like a little spice).
  3. Snip the cilantro with kitchen scissors. Measure out 1 tablespoon and stir it into the salsa.
  4. Squeeze the juice from the lime quarter over the salsa. Add a pinch of salt and stir again.
  5. Taste the salsa and add more salt, lime juice, garlic, or pepper, if you’d like. Eat it right away or refrigerate for up to 1 day. Enjoy with tortilla chips!

Grown-up note: Children may need help cutting and dicing. Also, cilantro isn’t for everyone. You may want to have same some before you commit. This is also a great opportunity to talk about the sense of taste. 

3. Tzatziki

There’s lots to love about this creamy, garlicky tzatziki dip! It’s absolutely delicious on pita. Add it to a homemade gyro, or wow everyone with a tasty crudité appetizer.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill
  • ⅓ cup cucumber, grated
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt & ¼ teaspoon pepper

Step-by-step

  1. Mince the garlic and finely chop the dill. Set aside.
  2. Grate the cucumber using the small-hole side of the grater. Using a fine mesh strainer or a clean kitchen towel, press the grated cucumber to drain the water. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl combine yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or more (the longer, the better).
  4. Stir in grated cucumber and dill. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

Grown-up note: Grown-ups should help kids with finely chopping the dill and garlic. Tell them to watch their fingers when using the grater. For younger chefs, you may need to grate the cucumber for them.

4. Béchamel

This creamy, classic French sauce is delicious on sandwiches, cooked in lasagna, or a gratin. It can be made plain, with or without the spices, as a base for cheese sauce or soup.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 ½ cups warm milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onion
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste

Step-by-Step

  1. Melt butter in a small pan over medium heat until melted. Add the flour while whisking, and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. On medium-low heat slowly whisk in the warm milk and allow to thicken, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add pepper, chives, salt, mustard, and nutmeg (if using), and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Grown-up note: Kids may need support at the stovetop. In step 2, you’ll be whisking just long enough to incorporate the flour well and neutralize the taste. The béchamel sauce should be thick and not runny. Adjust heat lower if you need, so the milk doesn’t burn.

4. Homemade Ketchup

There’s nothing like dipping fries in homemade ketchup! This kid-friendly, simple sauce is a fun way to get kids cooking, and it doesn’t require too much of a time commitment.

Ingredients

  • 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon garlic or onion powder (or ½ teaspoon of each)
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Step-by-Step

  1. Using a can opener, open the cans of tomato sauce and paste. Pour them into a large bowl.
  2. Add the honey, onion or garlic powder, and salt. Whisk it all together until smooth.
  3. Serve it right away or store it in the refrigerator in a sealed jar for up to 1 week.

Grown-up note: Children may need some help and guidance in Step 1, learning how to use the can opener safely to open the cans of sauce and paste.

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